|Does WhoIs Protection Stop Google From Seeing Ownership?|
I've always used GoDaddy to rego domains. I just switch to Namecheap. With namecheap the whoisguard does not get applied automatically, you have to rego the domain AND then apply the whoisguard to the domain. So there is a period where the domain whoIS... your name... is out in the open.
I always thought with Godaddy it was completely private. That your details NEVER went public if you chose the option to protect privacy.
But now im think that GoDaddy might be the same. That you rego the domain, your details go public for a a few seconds or so (enough time for Google to add the info to their database that you own the domain) and then apply the privacy.
Does anyone know how it ACTUALLY works? Is this, or could this, be the case? Is completely private domain rego just a fantasy?
Also, i dont need people posting that if you dont do anything wrong then there is no reason to have private who is. I want completely private domain rego - i got my reasons :-)
I think that anyone should be able to register a domain with complete privacy.
I don't know if Google gets the info but I would guess they do, otherwise they would not have filed patents and "requested" to become domain registrars.
Now that they use private information supposed to stick between you and your registrar for anything else than domain registration is not so ethical I think.
Unless you are a huge spammer, I don't think that Google would use the info against you. I hope not, everyone can make mistakes, unfortunately Google makes huge mistakes as well sometimes, and some businesses pay the price.
If you want real privacy then ask your girl friend to register for you :) it's safer.
There's nothing as safe as a friend's name, address and credit card number. Anything else has a risk.
There are some very good reasons for private registrations, aside from SPAM and gaming the search engines. Like people who work from home and don't want wierdo goons showing up at their front door or breaking into their homes - especially WFH Moms with small children at home who have to be extra careful about vulnerabilities.
Granted that there are many bad actors online using private registrations to cover their tracks, but if the search engines have to rely on whois info alone to be able to distinguish crap sites from good ones, sorry - but they've got a way to go with algo development.
Google obviously considers it important. There was some comment by Matt once when he was analysing someone's site. The fact that they had a private reg was frowned upon. Maybe exceptions like WFH moms are seen as too small a minority for Google to worry about.
|Also, i dont need people posting that if you dont do anything wrong then there is no reason to have private who is. I want completely private domain rego - i got my reasons :-) |
Sure, and Google may have its reasons for taking points off a site's "quality score" or adding points to its "spam score" if whois information is hidden. In short, you may need to abide by Google's accountability standards if you want to maximize your traffic from Google, but Google isn't forcing you to come out of the closet: the decision is up to you.
|...Google may have its reasons for taking points off a site's "quality score"... |
If true, it strikes me as yet another example of Google's unhealthy fixation with punishment.
I wonder if Larry Page and Sergey Brin will offer their private info for Google.com at the Whois?
Or is it an example of "do as we say, not as we do"?
Reno, actually Google exec info sometimes does get made public [news.com.com]. And Google goes ape sh*t. :)
|If true, it strikes me as yet another example of Google's unhealthy fixation with punishment. |
If it's true, it has nothing to do with punishment; it's about statistical probability and profiling.
Let's assume, just for the sake of discussion, that Google has quality raters look at a random sample made up of 1,000 domains. Of the 1,000 rated domains, 5% (or 50 domains) don't have publicly available WhoIs information, and of those 50 domains, only 20% (or 10) are worthwhile. Will users be inconvenienced, or will the quality of the Google index suffer noticeably, if Google therefore concludes that domains with "WhoIs protection" are likely to be of less value than sites without?
Yes, a few Webmasters may be have legitimate reasons for hiding their WhoIs information, but that isn't Google's concern. Google's job is to deliver the best possible search results, and if a few privacy-obsessed Webmasters have to find other ways to get traffic, that's a small price to pay from the point of view of Google and its users.
(Disclaimer: I'm not saying that Google does use the availability of WhoIs data as a quality metric; that may or may not be the case.)
The issue here is not yet another white hat/black hat dialog, but whether or not Google can see ownership on private registration (which happens to be the specific topic here), which represents a very important issue where privacy policies are concerned.
My response was based on oddsod's posting:
|"There was some comment by Matt once when he was analysing someone's site. The fact that they had a private reg was frowned upon." (emphasis mine) |
Here's the way I look at it:
There's a person sitting in Chicago who enters a very specific 4 word query.
There's a website for a company in Boston that has that exact information. The siteowner however does not want his/her private contact information made available.
Does the person in Chicago care a twit whether or not that person's Whois information is public or private? No, not one little bit. All that person cares about is getting the information requested.
So for Google to possibly not deliver that site as a well-ranked selection in the SERPs just because the siteowner wants privacy is, to my way of thinking, fundamentally counter-productive.
But I say that only if it's true that there is any sort of penalty for privacy -- as best this may all be speculative.
So I agree with Marcia -- if Google bases anything on the Whois it's pretty sad. And if they have access to private information, then it's down right unethical.
|So I agree with Marcia -- if Google bases anything on the Whois it's pretty sad. And if they have access to private information, then it's down right unethical. |
Not if they aren't sharing that private information.
|If true, it strikes me as yet another example of Google's unhealthy fixation with punishment. |
I believe one of the search patents included information such as length of domain registration as being possible factors in scoring websites. This has to be obtained from the whois, which is no surprise. So maybe it is not an issue of "punishment", when your information is private, but rather a "lack of reward" due to a lack of data?
[edited by: crobb305 at 2:01 am (utc) on Mar. 4, 2007]
This is the third or fourth time this issue has popped up in the forums. A trend, or a group of strange one-offs?
>> So I agree with Marcia -- if Google bases anything on the Whois it's pretty sad.
It would be pretty pathetic if Google penalizes a site based on somebody wanting to maintain their privacy.
Google has a lot of smart folks working for it though - I have a hard time believing they would penalize a site based simply on whois info - there are so many other factors that are so much more important.
I can think of many reasons to have some kind of privacy enabled:
1) You live/work in a country that is oppressive, and perhaps you are publishing information that could get you in trouble with your government. China is the best example in that aspect.
2) Perhaps you live alone and you don't want somebody having easy access to your address. We've all seen some nutty folks on the internet - what if you like Widget A and they like Widget B, and you write good things about A and things you don't like about B - some people will take it to the extreme and decide to show you the error of your ways.
3) You have or work for a company that does one thing, and you have some sites that you maintain as a hobby on the side, and you don't want somebody at your company easily finding out (or say you're applying for a job, and the recruiter looks on the web (which many do these days) and sees you have a fan site for one team and they like another team. Yeah, it could affect you big-time.
4) You get enough spam as it is, and don't want more.
5) Fraud - it's bad enough the info people can get on you - non-private registrations would make you an easier target.
6) Security - not just the above situation of say a single person worrying about some nut, but what if you have a popular blog and announce you are taking a vacation or you're going to some expo about whatever Widgets you write about - if somebody had easy access to your info, they could know when you would be out of town. Yes, people can and would do this.
7) You are a fan of whatever team or widget - somebody is rooting for another team or widget, and are unhappy with your choice - if you have a job in addition to your website stuff, and they find you (some companies publish employee directories on the net), they might decide to get you fired. I've seen it happen.
The list goes on.
I keep my domains either privately registered or with an LLC I have setup that goes to a post office box and does not have my name on it.
My sites rank well for the most part - they rank where I expected them to, based on what they cover. If Google penalizes me because I have an LLC or private registration, my sites must have too many good things, that cancel that out.
|I always thought with Godaddy it was completely private. That your details NEVER went public if you chose the option to protect privacy. |
But now im think that GoDaddy might be the same.
Well, you're thinking wrong, and this is how urban legends and needless paranoia are spread around.
You get to choose the privacy option during the buy process at Godaddy, and pay at the ame time for options and domain registration both - all at once, it's all set BEFORE checkout. Never for one single minute is the domain registered with the buyer's information, and to have any access at all to that domain's information (aside from nameserver changes), you need an account and a password with the agent in Arizona.
To connect the owner with the domain would take having access to Godaddy's database - and Google does not have that by being a registrar.
Furthermore... there are *other* parties out there who are accredited registrars who are about as ethical as a telemarketer selling mountain-top resort property in Florida. But no one ever gets at all concerned with that, it's just the GOOGLE Bash of the Week Club that wants to accuse Google of everything, including their dandruff problems and their dog's halitosis.
|It would be pretty pathetic if Google penalizes a site based on somebody wanting to maintain their privacy. |
Profiling isn't the same as penalizing.
Just as important, allegations and speculation aren't the same as proven fact, so why make a fuss about something that Google may or may not be doing?
|Just as important, allegations and speculation aren't the same as proven fact, so why make a fuss about something that Google may or may not be doing? |
Exactly. Its a matter of "fact" that when MC examines an otherwise suspicious site he can see private registration (as we all can), which can serve to exacerbate an already tacky site profile, but to state pure conjecture as a FACT is not only irresponsible, it can be damaging.
Personally, IMHO the title of this thread should be changed to more accurately reflect reality.
|So maybe it is not an issue of "punishment", when your information is private, but rather a "lack of reward" due to a lack of data? |
A much better way of handling it -- I hope you are correct crobb305.
|You get to choose the privacy option during the buy process at Godaddy, and pay at the ame time for options and domain registration both - all at once, it's all set BEFORE checkout. |
I have a couple dozen domains registered with GoDaddy and the process as stated by Marcia is exactly the way it works.
|I can think of many reasons to have some kind of privacy enabled: |
Excellent summation gendude!
I have owned domains since 1997. I have seen many instances of telemarketers and direct mailers farming the database regularly. I believe crooks do it also. Identity thieves etc.
The privacy issue is being abused by registrars to cloak the fact they are tasting and registering valuable domains for themselves. That is why it will not be regulated anytime soon. They are making millions on this loop hole.
And yes, the registrars find loop holes to sell the information to data mining companies.
People concerned about Google mining the data are paranoid. They use it to protect the integrity of their SERPs. I have many sites that are first in Google listings and have never had them penalize me for owning too many domains. Of course all my domains are developed with good relevant content. Google likes that.
Get a PO box and a LLC corporation. You can use this to protect your privacy. You will still get direct mail and your business phone will still get telemarketers but it will not be your name or home address involved.
I have not had any trouble with Enom. I have been with them for 5 years.
Watch out for low prices. Those companies have to make money somewhere and many of them ARE the direct marketers and telemarketers.
One thing to think about re the whole private registration thing is the difficulty you might have proving (and retaining) your ownership of a domain if the registrar you use to hold your 'private' registration goes out of business, or in some other way decides to change what they do.
This is something the current Registerfly debacle is highlighting.
Establishing an ownership connection between you and the domain you claim to own can be hard when you rely on an unreliable party as your ownership proxy.
It might be handy sometimes to cloak who you are, but it can backfire on you if it means you can't prove that a valuable domain name belongs to you. You may find yourself watching helplessly one day as your domain portfolio goes to auction when the receivers move in on your registrar.
Unless they are throwaway domains for blackhat SEO or something, in which case it's no big deal I guess.
|One thing to think about re the whole private registration thing is the difficulty you might have proving (and retaining) your ownership of a domain if the registrar you use to hold your 'private' registration goes out of business, or in some other way decides to change what they do. |
This is something the current Registerfly debacle is highlighting.
That is a very valid issue that every site owner needs to think about. One of the biggest things that can help is maintaining a money trail - i.e. receipts and emails.
The Registerfly debacle should be a wakeup call to all of us to have a lot of "contingency" planning, so to speak. If you run your sites in a very loose fashion, you may find yourself looking for another job if you don't plan ahead for the worst.
I would also point out that some TLDs require non-private registrations already - the National Telecommunications and Information Association banned private registrations for all .US domains.
|I would also point out that some TLDs require non-private registrations already - the National Telecommunications and Information Association banned private registrations for all .US domains. |
Thanks to both moocow and gendude for their valuable insight. I have no problem with non-private registrations, with the exception of email spam, which for many of us is like a daily assault. It seems there should me a "mid-ground" between being completely open (all contact info visible) and completely private (nothing visible). And it seems like it is not asking too much to make that mid-ground available for anyone willing to pay a reasonable annual fee -- it could prove ownership but deny more fuel to the spammers.
Here's another good reason for private registration:
Agree with many comments. For those with whois privacy concerns, please be advised that there is at least one site which keeps whois history logs. (Forget the URL.) It's not a registrar, and it's not for every domain.
Every time someone looks up a whois profile on any domain, they make a record. There is a fee for their service.
Point is if you once had open whois info, then added privacy later, your old info could still be out in the open.
Warning: if you check to see if your (old) info is there, you create a new record for future reference.
The good thing is not too many people know about the site and its geek service!
The only time Google should care about blocked (private) whois info is when the site sells online. Refunds could be tricky! :/ In those cases, I would prefer Google penalize the domain.